If you’ve been following my series of reviews of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, then you know Cahier #4 is next in this wonderful line-up. Alan Jenkins’ love for the poet Arthur Rimbaud shines forth in his cahier, which features the famous Drunken Boats (Le Bateau ivre), translated from the French by Jenkins. Also featured are two original works by Jenkins celebrating the style of Rimbaud and his passion for the sea.

I think most amazing to me was to learn that Rimbaud had not only written Drunken Boats at the age of seventeen, but that he had never been to sea before writing it. Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading this work will know that you can’t read it without experiencing vivid imaginings of a vast and complex sea. Jenkins’ translation is smooth and seemingly effortless, giving the poetry lover something rich to visit again and again. 

Alan Jenkins’ own two poems are also a great pleasure to read, evoking images of Rimbaud’s sea. The three works in one volume make for a powerful combination, enhanced all the more by the incredible artwork I’ve been learning to expect from The Cahier Series.  

When I was in high school, I discovered opera. I saw my first one (Faust) and was so moved by it that when the opportunity came to actually be in one as a supernumerary, I did it. That opera was Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner. So when I picked up Cahier 3 of The Cahier Series, published by Sylph Editions, I was delighted to note the subject matter. Circles of Silence discusses the opera Wagner Dream by Jonathan Harvey in collaboration with Jean-Claude Carrière, writer of the libretto.

Wagner Dream is indeed a dream realized. Harvey had always desired writing an opera with a Buddhist theme. Apparently, this was also Wagner’s desire, but for him, it never happened. Wagner Dream shows the last days of the famous German composer’s life as he has visions and dreams, talking with Buddha and finally “seeing” his opera come to pass.

The most fascinating portion of the cahier is the interview of Harvey and Carrière by Margery Arent Safir, which allows us an explanation in some detail of this translation between Buddhism and music. The cahier then wraps up with a section by Jonathan Harvey, which will give the true music lover much to ponder, as he shares his parallels between music and Buddhism. After reading Circles of Silence, I will most definitely be looking into hearing Wagner Dream.